Suggestions for someone trying to get into touring kayaks

They put out a lot of really good vids, too. Would love to see their shop someday.

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I have a Hurricane Phoenix 160 SOT sea kayak. I’ve rigged it up with a Rudder, Anchor trolley, added an anchor point, all new deck rigging, put a small buoy in the front rigging to tuck my paddle, 2 Scotty flush mounts, padded seat.
I’m actually more used to wide stable kayaks since I’m about to turn 60.
At 28 you’re headed in the right direction as far as sea kayaking goes. Just remember, When it is unloaded it will be a bit more on the tippy side.
I live in San Antonio, Tx. so there isn’t much sea around here.
I’m about to put my Hurricane up for Sale or trade.

The determinant of speed is water line length. A longer boat is faster. Also note, water line length. If two feet of bow is sticking out of the water, it slows you.
Which leads directly to how strongly does it track? If a boat has an extremely long and flat, level keel, it keeps the greatest length in the water, fast, but highly directional, hard to turn. (Particularly at speed.) The alternative is rocker. Bow to stern the boat has some rise to it. Boats that have a banana shape front to rear (or rear to front) turn easy and quick, but they do not keep the maximum water line length buried in the water, and thus, are slower.

Width is as to your comfort level and gear carrying capacity. Water line length has more to say about speed than width does. Width is another discussion of compromises.

There is debate about skegs, and a separate debate as to rudder. Skeg or keel, nails your roll to the water. Really nice for a very narrow boat , it can aid vertical stability. vs. A shallow arched bottom, no skeg, the boat can remain largely vertical, even on the slope, on the face of a wave.

The rudder can greatly aid both a boat with rocker easy or too easy to turn, helps to straighten you out… or it can aid a very straight keel that maintains a very straight course, by aiding turns.

Boats, all boats are long lists of compromises. Want it to track straight as a die, it might not be easy to turn. Lots of rocker, yes, easy to turn, but does not track straight . Annnnndd, then it all changes the faster or slower you go. Get it above hull speed and it either locks in, lasers in, on a course, faster still surfing down the face of a wave it wants to broach (turn 90 degrees to the side) with all its might. The fight then morphs into trying to stay absolutely centered on the downwind course. (The top of the wave moves faster than the trough.)

Test drive, borrow as many boats as you can, buy a list of boats and then sell the less favoured boats. It is all down to you. Mostly, have fun. When I am in a major rapids, I yell my fool head off, either or both, because it is serious fun, or it is scaring the poop out of me, usually, both.

Rare for anyone to average 5-6 mph in a sea kayak over long distances unless you’re racing.

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To bad you’re not close to me might be a perfect match.

Someone here told me to get a 205 (AMEN) paddle years ago. Dealer sold me a 215 Ikelos. I got the 205 Ikelos used for $200 years ago. I love it in my Solstice GT and my Extremes. I use the 225 Ikelos in my tandem Libra XT. I bought a 210 Corryvreckan but it’s not as clean or smooth when paddling like the Ikelos paddles.

To OP who wishes to paddle lakes beware! While you don’t have the current and maybe the potentially huge conditions of the true ocean or sea, stuff on a lake that isn’t “that big” can be quite large. Don’t think that you can get away with a more advanced boat because “you’re just on flatwater”. Look up fetch as far as wind is concerned. A Fetch of more than 1-200 yards can create enough chop to make your life miserable. I have paddled 1 1/2+ foot white caps on lakes with waves that were breaking over the bow. And unlike the sea where maybe you’re headed in one direction, can go to shore and turn around on land when you find a good beach, on lakes you may find things like dams or forest or obstructions that make it impossible to turn ashore at the place of longest fetch. What that means is by paddling around the lake at a certain point there is a 100% chance you will be at the very end of the fetch where the waves are the nastiest and you are turning your boat to follow shore meaning you will get broadsided by those waves for a time!!!

Big rivers like the Mississippi can also present ocean like conditions. Remember how Garfield say “whomever did/said that should be dragged out into the street and shot” back in the 80’s? Whomever called lakes, ponds and rivers “flatwater” should be forced to paddle on a lake on a windy day.


Hi Trey,
As one response fairly early commented, there is a Huge spectrum of boats being mentioned and you are at the very entry point. And that’s without even considering whitewater which is a very different world gear wise. There are some obvious similarities but also very different gear, especially boats. My 8’ WW is long, but half the length of an average sea kayak. 16-17’ is a nice size. Decent performance forward and turning , but not hyper fast or linear, and generally can carry some gear/versatility.

You’re about where I was almost 30 years ago when I started paddling. 31, 5-7, 150 at the time. If you can, I would encourage you to take a class, and whitewater in particular if there’s anything near you. I wore out 2 vehicles while in grad school driving from the Midwest to the Appalachians. WW will teach you more and carryover to flatwater better than the other way around.

As for paddles; avoid metal (cheapest) and get a relatively inexpensive fiberglass until you learn what you really want and why. There’s a decent chance you’ll damage it while learning. The weight is not nearly as significant as some make it out to be unless you’re racing; competition or companions. I got a deal on a Mitchell wooden paddle a few years in and love the feel. They don’t handle abuse as well but are wonderful to hold. I primarily use my carbon or Kevlar (pro-deals so less $) though mostly because they are bent shaft (ergonomic). I like them but paddled a decade with a Werner FG and the Mitchell. I think I tend to use a 210-215 when I get something from the shop, but will also use my ATs and they’re only 190’s. Just can’t reach around and turn the ends as well.

Definitely demo as much as you can until you start to understand the differences, or find something inexpensive just to get on the water. Everything is an upgrade from where you’re at.

I’ve been thinking of trying whitewater. I actually have an old whitewater kayak that was handed down to me …nothing fancy but its bullet proof. I’d have to look at some courses in my area.

I wouldn’t say I’m an absolute beginner since I’ve been paddling on and off since childhood ; I’m more in the area of " wanting to progress past recreational as I find it limited for what I want to accomplish with the sport. I can maintain reasonable speeds on my trips and try to cover around 12-20km on my 2.5 hour or so trips.

Side note…does your paddle drip water allover you? I have a 230 cm aluminum paddle with drip rings but they make absolutely no difference and by the halfway point in my trips I’m all wet. Paddling at a low angle isn’t possible as my boat …as mentioned is too wide

Here is a good choice for some training:

If/when things open up here is a good choice for open water: Paddle Canada Sea Kayak and Instructor Certification Courses | White Squall

In a boat designed to accommodate one, a spray skirt pretty much eliminates the problem of water dripping off of the paddle, if drip rings don’t work well enough.

A spray skirt is an essential part of a sea kayak, not an optional accessory.

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